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The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

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Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-40560-7
Publisher: Knopf

A look at the friendship of two extraordinary women, leaders of the first wave of feminism, which produced women’s suffrage. Designed as the companion to a Burns (television’s The Civil War, Baseball) and Ward (The West, 1996, etc.) film scheduled for a fall showing on PBS, this volume focuses on the remarkable 50-year partnership between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. It was Stanton who launched the fight for women’s rights with the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments at Seneca Falls, N.Y., and Anthony who focused on getting the vote as the issue that would give women the most leverage in gaining the economic, religious, legal, and moral independence espoused in the now famous document. Stanton, a dumpling of a woman with seven children, supplied “the philosophy and rhetoric”; Anthony, angular and a so-called spinster all her life, the “facts and statistics.” Together, with many others, including Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, and Frederick Douglass, they fought year after year, speech after speech, polemic after polemic to free American women from subjugation to the fathers, husbands, and sons in their lives. Some of the battles were ugly: although the first wave of feminism was closely allied with abolition (and also temperance), both Stanton and Anthony opposed the 15th Amendment giving newly freed black men the vote, asserting that women (i.e., educated white women) deserved it more. Both Stanton and Anthony spent years criss-crossing the country, giving speeches urging women to free themselves from male domination, Anthony pounding on the issue of suffrage, Stanton on what would later be called consciousness-raising. They died years short of the 1920 constitutional amendment that would give women the vote, but they left behind women like Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul, who would push it through. Heads up for those who think the women’s movement started with a bra burning in Atlantic City. (150 color and b&w photos) (Book-of-the-Month/History Book club selection)